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In what may be termed as a landmark decision likely to be emulated in other parts of the country, the Bombay High Court has ordered that private vehicles cannot sport logos or letters like 'judge' or 'metropolitan magistrate.' After the High Court order, the Mumbai Police started a special drive against private vehicles sporting stickers such as ‘police’, ‘press’ and ‘judge’.
Commenting on the development, Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Madhukar Pandey said,
People use the logo as a way to violate traffic rules and get away with it. Moreover, many cases of impersonation have also been recorded where they fleece money from unsuspecting motorists who either jump a signal or violate some other traffic rules. These stickers are easily available in the market for as low as Rs 15, allowing anyone to paste it on the windscreen of the cars or motorcycle’s mudguard or number plates.
We are all aware that a lot of private vehicles in India use such stickers to avoid harassment by police officials and flout laws without worrying about penal action. To be honest, we all have at some point wished to have such a logo on our vehicle. However, according to Indian laws, sporting such stickers on private vehicles amounts to misrepresentation and in some cases impersonation. Such serious offences can even land the violators in jail.
Coming to the law, section 134 (6) of the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles Rules (MMVR) and section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) says that using words, figures, drawings or stickers on private vehicles carries a fine of Rs 200. This need not be ‘police’, ‘judge’ or ‘press’ and can be any random sticker. The Mumbai police have begun drive against vehicles sporting ‘official looking’ stickers after owners of such vehicles were found routinely flout the law. The most common offense by such vehicles is wrong parking which is no surprise in a city like Mumbai where space of every kind is at a premium.
We believe that the High Court order is correct as well as timely. India is now gaining reputation for one of the most dangerous roads in the world where motorists are known to flout rules without worrying about consequences. Although there are strict laws to deal with almost every traffic offence, enforcement is lax and police officials are corrupt. The Indian government has also stepped forward and plans are underway to tighten the screws on traffic rule violators with an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act.